There was so much authoritarian lunacy in Trump’s press conference, that a very tangible bit of worker destruction went almost unnoticed.
There is so, so much to be terrified by in Trump’s press conference today. Maybe the scariest part is that the right, and especially the President, has completely co-opted the idea of “fake news”. The dossier–which, as predicted, is sort of falling apart–can now be conflated with every other Russian issue, or really, anything that looks bad for Trump (which is so, so much). A media report on corruption? Fake news. Him deciding that this time, he wants to accept a $2 billion bribe? Fake news.
The media will be cowed, completely neutered, for fear of being called “fake”. Unless they have a photo of Trump accepting a bag of money from Vladimir Putin, or doing a “Hail Hydra” thing, they won’t run stories. This is how more norms disappear, and how democracy slowly dies.
I might be wrong. They might find their sails. But that’s not what I want to talk about.
Buried inside all this madness, this incoherence and ignorance, deep within the open naked corruption barely even disguised as cynical nobility, was an actual policy. One that shows Trump’s hand when it comes to jobs.
Remember, he’s a jobs guy. He said again he’ll be the greatest jobs President “god ever created”. And so far, you know, he’s using his bully pulpit to force companies to give token jobs back to Indiana, or lying about making deals for jobs that were already here.
But, he wants you to know, this doesn’t mean he won’t be eliminating competition.
But you’re going to sell through a very strong border — not going to happen. You’re going to pay a very large border tax. So if you want to move to another country and if you want to fire all of our great American workers that got you there in the first place, you can move from Michigan to Tennessee and to North Carolina and South Carolina. You can move from South Carolina back to Michigan.
You can do anywhere — you’ve got a lot of states at play; a lot of competition. So it’s not like, oh, gee, I’m taking the competition away. You’ve got a lot of places you can move. And I don’t care, as along as it’s within the United States, the borders of the United States.
Ignore the typical incoherence, and hear the message: this has literally nothing to do with job security. I’m not sure the workers in Ohio or Michigan who voted for him will be thrilled that their jobs will up and move to Tennessee overnight.
And why would companies move from a northern state to a southern one? It could be that the entire Confederacy, and indeed the whole is the south is right-to-work, which is where workers don’t have to pay union dues, so that unions are weakened and destroyed. The south has a good “business climate”, which of course just means lack of worker or environmental regulations.
And so businesses want to move to these states, so that the can pay workers less, fire them for no cause, eliminate jobs if they start to cost too much, and have workers completely under their thumbs. So then the only way for states like Michigan or Ohio or Pennsylvania to compete with these states is to do the same thing.
Some states, like Wisconsin, are already right-to-work, because Scott Walker and the state GOP have it as a goal to break workers.
Which is ultimately the point. These right-to-work laws are all about destroying workers by ruining their bargaining rights. If employees can get union benefits without paying in, then they of course won’t. People think short-term. And so the union is starved of dues, can fight less, has to concede more, which makes fewer people want to buy in. After all, why should they, if the union can’t do anything? And that’s how unions starve.
So that’s the whole plan. Trumpism isn’t about keeping jobs except in the narrowest sense. These jobs that are coming back will be the bulwark of plutocracy, where workers will be grateful for the scraps, because hey, Alabama might let us save a few more dollars, so maybe be thankful for your $8 an hour.
It’s why there is an assault on the Clean Water Act: so that companies can do whatever they want. It’s why Pruitt is going to head the EPA. It’s why Puzder is nominated for Labor. This is a comprehensive plan to destroy our rights to good wages and a clean environment.
So when Trump talks about keeping jobs in America, he doesn’t mean good jobs. And he doesn’t mean freedom from insecurity. He’s going to bring the race-to-the-bottom mentality to the United States. Accountability will be gone, and workers will fight against each other to accept the barest scraps. “We have to beat Texas! No more factory inspections! No more safety laws. Kentucky will let us literally pour pain into every aquifer, and even though we don’t make or use paint, that’s the kind of business climate we need! So if you want to keep your job, you’ll have to let us poison your children, work you 80 hours, and not pay any overtime.”
It’s coming, unless we resist. It’ll be a whole nation of states where having the next Triangle Shirtwaist is a mark of pride.